Two days missing!?!
I think I am getting the jitters, for we are actually now in the lumpy parts of the story; that peculiar wilderness between what is definitely written, what is still being formed, and what has yet to be writ.
This is where my First Draft will really be showing.
Those of a praying persuasion, please pray that I face the fear of writing before your very eyes, because I very much want to get this story told, hence showing it to you all in the first, but fear is my constant opponent.
Regarding last week's questioning, it is a salient point that the serialised nature of this tale promotes pondering on what is next because there is only short bursts of words with a significant pause in between.
Also, I am sorry if I gave the impression of not appreciating the deeper insights into the flow and direction and implications of these: I value such musings greatly (tho not just simple guessing/showing away about the plot, but genuine full-expressed wonderings) - indeed, they have at times given me insights into what I am doing I could not have had myself. So, thank you musing folks.
PLEASE DO NOT PUBLISH OR REPRODUCE WITHOUT MY PERMISSION
Chapter 8 PART 1
The Sulk & Through
gastrine(s) ~ great muscles grown especially in boxes – usually made of bronze- or iron bound wood - and used to drive treadles whose motion is used originally and chiefly to provide motivation for rams (naval gastrine vessels) and packets (articled gastrine vessels). In more recent decades they have also become more widely employed in the manufacture of mill-worked goods: beating metal,grinding grains, turning looms, and making many folks very wealthy in the process. ALSO stachel ~ said "STA-kl", a spine, especial one grown upon the back.
Too excited to sleep, Economous spent the night in preparation, which consisted mostly of packing, examining, re-packing and re-examining his meagre count of possession. The heaviest items to bring were his foldable easle that had seen little use in the last few months but would be useful indeed over the next; and a small carter’s trunk holding spare smallclothes, the few books he still owned – every blank leaf scrawled with drawings, his modest collection of paints and brushes, a pair of handsomely buckled mules that had somehow survived his regular system of pawning – and would be good to wear come his first presentation to his patroness, and his sole threadbare blanket – such a friend for so many cold winter nights he could not bare to leave it to be sold. Rolled inside a hempen sack, he placed three blank, unstretched canvases of various dimension. Rather than wrestle the bulk of made frames all the way from Brandentown to the domain of his mysterious patron, he planned to construct them from wood he was sure would he could find once he had arrived at his journey’s terminus. Wondering at first if he might leave the dread tool behind, he wrapped Miserichord in his sole spare shirt and placed inside a narrow wooden box – the purpose of which or how he came to have it he could not recall – with a leatherned strap like the sword-holding bautis boxes carried by sabrine adepts.
The morning of the eighth day of the second summer month dawned with a cackle of magpies upon the neighbouring roof waking him from his slump upon the tandem. Leaving the sale of his remaing paltry goods in the hands of Bidbrindle – who promised to forward what ever profit he could garner as soon as Economous could furnish him with an established address – Economous farewelled his tiny garret, descended the geriatric stair for the last time. Half way down he was met my by Bidbrindle himself coming out from his own second storey abode.
“A-hey! The adventurer off to seek his making,” the older man greeted him.
“Aye, or bread and bunk, at least.” The young illuminator smiled, putting the carter’s trunk down with a clumsy thud so as to get a better hold on it.
“Well, let it not be that the heldin is set on his way unsung,” Bidbrindle returned. “Or unfed.” He flourished a canvas flour bag, tied with a hair-ribbon lumpy with foodstuffs. “Allow me to assist you with your heavier articles, I shall come with you to bid your farewell from the hard.”
Economus did not know what to say. His innards griped with sudden regret at abandoning so true a man as the violin-maker.
“You have elected to wear your metrician’s cingulum, I see,” Bidbrindle observed quickly, seeking to spare them further discomfort.
“Aye,” Economous returned with a duck of his head and a shrug, tugging at the black sash about his shoulder and chest that showed his to be a full-measuring concometrist. It made him feel like an imposter, but it could ease the path ahead, especially with the more clerical set – unless they were an abacus-trained mathematician, of course.
“Very wise, sir,” the violin-maker pressed on even quicker, seeing his first attempt fail. “Everyone likes a member of the Amicable Fraternity of Athenaeus.”
Passing through the tiny vestibule some small part of him still wanted for the vaunted door – that old portal to both fear and bliss – to spring open this one last time and for Asthetica to fling her lithely arms about him in weeping apology.
It did not and she did not.
For only the third time since he had come to Brandenbrass and the second time in a week, Economous hired a takeny from the To-Market, directing the stripe-coated driver to [……NAME OF EC’s HOUSE PLEASE!], there to pick up the carter’s trunk, easle and faithful Mister Bidbrindle with them. The journey to the harbour was startlingly brief and all too soon Economous found himself – not really feeling like himself the whole time – stepping off from mildewed steps at the bottom of the Queen’s Wharf Hard and into a jollyboat already waiting to take him to his vessel.
“Fare thee well, good sir!” Bidbrindle cried from the top of the stonepace wall. “Write me that I might boast of you success to all who need tell of it!”
“I will!” Economous cried in return, his voice cracking clutching the flour-bag of vittles had passed to him in farewell like it was a treasured keepsake. “I will!”
“Sit ye down, ye bloat-brained looby!” the master of the boat skolded roughly. “Who wants yer fussin’s to make us over-tip and miss gate-shut at the Spindles!”
Amongst the great number of receiving vessels gathered in the outer moorings of Middle Ground, Economous’ vessel – the Douse Fish – looked disconcertingly small. She was a cromster – this much he could see by sight of her: a river-going craft that was surely scarce large enough for even the relative tranquillity of the inshore waters of the north western Grume. Climbing the short side ladder and handed aboard with the disdainful aid of a young bargeman, he was gratified to find that the craft was neatly turned out at least, neither rusted or cluttered with lumber and unravelled rope as was the common lubberly view of all sea-going vessels. While his carter’s trunk and his canvases were heft aboard and sent down to the hold, he presented himself and his commutation ticket to an ancient fellow standing by the long hefty tiller beam at the helm who he presumed to be the diminutive vessel’s master.
“ Mister Patefract,” he said with gracious nod, flourishing the ticket to be verified by this age-ed sea dog.
Close to the man now, Economous observed a face white-wiskered and ruddy red, the flesh scarred with white dotted cicatrices and the tiny, burrow-like pits of a life spent upon the vinegar seas.
“I cannot vouch for what them inky boobies at the certifying establishment told ye…” the vessel’s master drawled, squinting suspuciously at the paper held before him then up to Economous’ slightly disconcerted face,“Mister Musgrill. Yet I am reckoning they likely failed to collect ye, sir, that the ’Fish is not some fiddling-worked ducal caroucelle with more bunks than batteries.” He uttered these otherwise sardonic words with the flatness that could only come from constant repetition. “Ye’ll find no pillow for ye to lay yer head tonight – the deck will be yer berth as it will be mine and yonder barge-fellows.” He nodded backwards to a crew of two man-handling Economous’ stores below: the rest of yonder barge-fellows were presumably below deck to ready limbres and gastrines for the great push out to sea. “Only the gastrineer gets the privilege of keeping dry below decks and for that he must suffer the gutline’s reek. Sleep or wake as ye please, but stay ye clear of me crew and their labours. And that long lump o’ lumber ye have there,” he went on with a second nod, now to the narrow box holding Miserichord, “will have to go below: stachels on shoulders is one thing, but I’ll not have such above until ye reach yer harbour.”
“Very good, Mister Patefract,” Economous answered, not knowing what else to say. Despite the slight fee he had paid for his ticket, he had hoped for a little more. All disappointments be dashed! he schooled himself as he passed the offending article to a stowing bargeman. He was on his way to brighter days and that was all the purpose of life answered.
His oft-rehearsed speech now done, with scarce more than growls the river-master gestured to a rough bench formed from a line of puncheons sawn in half and fixed together between two wooden riding bits before the sole mast. Another soul cloaked from neck to ankle in a long oil-hide despite the balmy morn was already sat there, clutching cloak to throat and staring fixedly away to open waters on the right. As Economous – with a tip of his tricorn – bade this other whom he assumed to be his fellow passenger good morning he felt a shudder transmit from the pale slightly bowed deck through his feet and up his shanks. This surely was the gastrines – the boxes of living muscle that propelled all such vessels through the hostile waters – being released to action.
His fellow passenger glanced ever so briefly to him, thus revealing herself to be a woman. Neither obviously young nor noticably old, her faced was striped on each side with pale parallel bands that came from under the band of her own tricorn, going over either eye, down the cheeks and around the line of her jaw – the markings of a skold.
The lady skold nodded but said nothing and returned to her inspection of the outer reaches of the harbour.
“Sit, will ye, sir!” Mister Patefract barked from his station by the tiller behind. “Or wind and wine help me, I’ll lash ye to the polemast!”